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by Abigail Van Buren

In Laws' Close Friendship Puts Strain on Family Ties

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are writing about our only daughter, "Jessica," who has been married to "Ron" for three years. Jessica recently expressed displeasure (initiated by Ron) about how close we are with Ron's parents. They feel our friendship is somehow unusual or threatening. The in-laws are aware of it and don't intend to change their relationship with us.

From the time that Jessica began dating Ron, my husband and I formed a lovely and close bond with these people. We include each other at family and holiday gatherings. We're baffled, hurt and resent being told to back off from a relationship we cherish. We can't see the logic behind it, and it has put a strain on our relationship with our daughter and son-in-law. What do you think about this, Abby? -- BAFFLED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR BAFFLED: Ron may not have as close a relationship with his parents as you do with your daughter. Perhaps they would like to see less of the in-laws. By including them at every family and holiday gathering, you may be forcing more contact than Ron and Jessica would like. So my advice is -- at least for a while -- that you continue to socialize with these people as friends but curtail some of those family activities. See "the kids" alone sometimes, and you may learn the reason they feel the way they do.